After 75 years of putting women in the most important dress of their lives, Picker's Elegant Occasions, on Rt. 5, in Clinton, is closing. Owner, Cyndy Grabeldiner, bought her prom dress at Pickers; her mother bought her wedding dress at the store that began in the hustle and bustle of Utica's Bleecker Street, in the mid-1940s. Styles came and went, but the switch to online shopping is one trend the store simply could not endure.
"The trends show that 40 percent of brick and mortar stores are closing every year. Bridal is number three on the list, so, doesn't show for a rosy future," says Grabeldinger.
An accountant by trade, Grabeldinger embarked on a much different journey 12 years ago.
"I said if I'm gonna do my own business, I would wanna be in a happy business and bridal seemed like a very happy business, and it is for the most part. You bring tears of joy to people. It's just very exciting, to help them find that perfect dress for that day and we love it and we love all our customers and we're really sad about that, because we made some really good friends," she said.
News that the store was closing caused concern for some brides and bridal parties. Bridesmaid, Monica Clark, thought she was saying yes to the stress, following some unanswered phone calls.
"When I called them on Saturday, I specifically said, for the look on your windows, are you closing your business? And they said no," said Clark. But she was able to get her friend's bridal gown from the store on Thursday. Grabeldinger says all special orders will be delivered.
"If by chance we closed in December or something and the dress isn't here, I would hand deliver it to the bride, and I've had discussions with my customers about that, but I don't anticipate that. I think we'll be here when our dresses come in," said Grabeldinger.
The store's liquidation sale is underway. Grabeldinger says selling the store wasn't an option, because potential buyers weren't exactly lining up. But she did, at a time when prospects were still slim. And she doesn't regret it, saying, "When I bought the business, it had been for sale for almost three years, so I was crazy and did it and I enjoyed all the 12 years I've been here, so, it's not a mistake, it's a good part of my life."